Honest Tea Sued Over Marketing of Honey Green Tea

Honest Tea is facing a proposed class action lawsuit alleging that the company is dishonestly marketing Honey Green Tea because the beverage doesn’t contain the amount of antioxidants that it lists on the label.

The lawsuit, filed on Nov. 6 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, accuses the Coca-Cola-owned company of misleading consumers about the amount of “antioxidants green tea flavonoids” in the product, an action that is “contrary to its ‘Honest’ trade name,” according to the complaint.

“Independent testing by a laboratory retained by Plaintiff’s counsel determined that 16.9 fluid ounce bottles of Honey Green Tea contained an average of 186.7 mg of flavonoids per bottle,” the lawsuit reads. “While Honest Tea claims on their website and in their “Keeping It Honest Mission Report” that they use ‘honesty and integrity’ to craft their products, the testing showed that the total flavonoids per bottle is 24% below the ‘247 mg Antioxidants Green Tea Flavonoids Per Bottle’ highlighted on the label.”

The lawsuit also claims that Honest Tea has misrepresented the antioxidant content in its Honey Green Tea since 2008 and through subsequent labeling changes.

“In 2011, Honest Tea changed Honey Green Tea’s label representations from ‘250mg EGCG Super Antioxidant’ to ‘Antioxidants 190mg Tea Catechins/Bottle,’” the lawsuit states. “But Honest Tea’s own marketing materials demonstrate that the 250 mg EGCG claim was false. On its website, Honest Tea cites two editions of Men’s Health Magazine, which Honest Tea claims ‘independently tested’ Honey Green Tea in January 2009 and June 2008. Both articles state that bottles of Honey Green Tea contained 71 mg of EGCG per bottle. 5 Seventy-one milligrams of EGCG is not even a third of the EGCG per bottle that Honest Tea claimed on the label.”

The complaint goes on to state that in 2013, Honest Tea changed Honey Green Tea’s labels to read “247 mg Antioxidants Green Tea Flavonoids Per Bottle” but did not change the formulation of Honey Green Tea.”

The plaintiff, Sarah A. Salazar, said that she bought Honest Tea’s Honey Green Tea on numerous occasions, but would not have done so had she known that the product contained fewer antioxidants that what is listed on the label. Instead, Salazar would have purchased tea leaves or a tea bag of green tea and paid much less. As a result of her purchases, Salazar “suffered injury in fact and lost money,” the lawsuit states.

In an e-mail to BevNET, Honest Tea spokesman Dan Forman said that the company is aware of the lawsuit and stands behind its claims, but cannot comment further.